A diet with nuts, including pistachios, significantly lowered total and LDL-cholesterol levels, in addition to triglycerides, a new study found.
The finding, published earlier this month in the Archives of Internal Medicine, confirms other evidence that nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers said. The report was authored by Joan Sabaté of Loma Linda University's School of Public Health, and the research was funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation.
"Enjoying a handful or two of in-shell pistachios may provide significant heart health benefits," said Martin Yadrick, past-president of the American Dietetic Association. "They are known to also improve blood vessel function, blood sugar control, act as potent antioxidant and offer weight management benefits, all of which are important for improving heart health."
The study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, involved a review of research conducted in seven counties and involved 600 subjects and 25 clinical trials. It is said to be the most comprehensive study of its kind. The analysis included data from 583 men and women, aged 19 to 86 years old. Among the studies, nut consumption ranged from less than one ounce to 4.75 ounces per day. The average daily intake for the meta-analysis was 67 grams per day or 2.4 ounces.
The results found that when 67 grams of nuts were consumed, triglycerides were reduced by 10.2 percent among those with high triglyceride levels at the onset of the study; and total and LDL-cholesterol were lowered by 5.1 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Individuals with higher baseline LDL-cholesterol levels also experienced a greater reduction in total and LDL-cholesterol levels compared to those with normal baseline LDL levels.
Subjects following a typical Western-diet also experienced a greater reduction in total and LDL-cholesterol levels (-7.4 percent and - 9.6 percent, respectively) compared to a low-fat (-4.1 percent and -6.0 percent, respectively) or a Mediterranean diet (-4.1 percent and -6.0 percent, respectively).
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